There are many phrases trying to make cycling more comprehensible and adaptable. We tired of most of them, they have been repeated too much over the past 100 years. Making a whole country a competition site is quite unique with everything that is special about the country its beauty and nature. Riding on narrow tires, close to the competition heading down descents or fighting their ways through spectators with ones last strength – over 1500km from the North to the Atlantic coast with strong Sahara winds and afterwards to the interior of the country at the Southside of the Atlas Mountains in searing heat. After barren landscapes of the elevated plateau where the wind whistled unpleasantly we came back to green lowlands and experienced an incredible final in the vivid city of Casablanca. What a great experience for our riders Michael Hümbert, Yannick Mayer, Daniel Bichlmann, Timo Schäfer, Ryan Wills and Dan Craven.
The Morocco Tour had very strong competitors this year and usually our team would play a minor role. However, Dan Craven as the leading rider of the UCI Africa Tour in our team made the difference. From the first stage on we made sure that the BIKE AID logo from the Saarland played a role in sports. Ryan Wills narrowly missed the win of the first stage but won the leader’s jersey in the intermediate sprint evaluation. Yannick Mayer was sixth of the stage. This would have been a completely satisfying result for the round trip.
However, it turned out to be only the beginning. At the third stage Dan Craven was second in the over all ranking making it tangible to win UCI points in the Africa Tour. But there were still about 1000 kilometers left. The races were offensive and dangerous; everyday was a war over 180 kilometers from kilometer 1 to the finish line, so our riders had to do their best. On the fourth stage Dan Craven was 10 minutes behind and everything seemed to be over. However, the team was ready to do anything in order to reach the mutual goal. There were a lot of accidents, and sometimes it looked like our riders had to go straight to the hospital, but they still managed to continue somehow. Also Dan Craven had to show a lot of strength, it was not always possible for him to keep up with the other leading riders in the mountain classifications. But our riders showed a great amount of team spirit, they waited for him and brought him back from the fourth group to the peak of the race and won some valuable time in the overall ranking. Not only once, but at several stages. One time Dan Craven was laying on the ground, his bike broken, his jersey torn and with blood stains all over his body, close to giving up. But he knew that he could rely on his team colleagues so he continued.
Dan Craven finished the Tour Du Maroc in the end being 5th in the overall ranking, 4 minutes and 4 seconds after the overall winner Julien Loubetaus, France. This brought Dan Craven 10 UCI points for the Africa Tour. A lot of pain and an incredible torture for 10 points, is that really worth it? Surely not, but this is what makes the sport so fascinating, you have to live it yourself to understand what the riders go through. It is experiences like this – sometimes positive sometimes negative - that made our team grow together closely.
After all this was also possible we have Yves as an incredible valuable sportive leader who with his girlfriend – our physical therapist Laura – contributes as much to the team as our riders. Every day they were sweating in their shirts, ruined their voices, had to listen to the Radio Tour and to transform the complaints of our guys to more positive vibes. Thank you for that!